A top Maldivian diplomat has criticised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for cancelling a 2015 state visit to the Maldives.
In an interview with Tribune India about Indo-Maldives relations, the ambassador to India Ahmed Mohamed spoke about the free trade agreement with China that has raised concerns over China’s influence in the Maldives.
Mohamed told the Tribune that China wanted a “quick FTA” which prompted the Maldives to engage easily with China.
The country’s first FTA was rushed through parliament in November 2017. The government says it will open up the world’s largest consumer market for tariff-free fish exports, while the Maldives committed to waive import duties for Chinese goods.
Mohamed said that an FTA with India was being discussed but remarked that things were moving slowly.
“There are certain things that need to move faster [from India’s side], including FTA. On infrastructure developments, we have requests with India pending since the 2014 visit of President [Abdulla] Yameen. There are requests for which we need speedier processing,” he said.
Speaking about the state visit of Modi that was cancelled following the arrest of opposition leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed, Mohamed said that the cancellation did not bode well.
“We have not been told that PM Modi’s visit did not happen because of that reason [Nasheed’s arrest and the protests that followed]. It would have been better for the ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy if PM Modi had visited us,” he said.